More Evolutionists Say 'Ida' Is Not a Missing Link
by Brian Thomas, M.S. *
A fossilized lemur-like creature, nicknamed ‚ÄúIda,‚ÄĚ was broadly heralded in 2009 as one of man‚Äôs earliest ancestors. At the time, and despite the hype, various paleontologists expressed doubts regarding the placement of this fossil in man‚Äôs evolutionary tree.
Now, after a careful look at the evidence, more researchers are refuting Ida‚Äôs ‚Äúmissing link‚ÄĚ status. These more measured analyses, however, are not being promoted with as much enthusiasm as the unsubstantiated initial claims that Ida was ‚Äúour connection with the rest of all the mammals.‚ÄĚ1
A recent article in the Austin American-Statesman highlighted research by University of Texas anthropologist Chris Kirk and his colleagues, who recently published a critique of Ida in the Journal of Human Evolution. Kirk told the Statesman, ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a spectacular fossil, but it really doesn‚Äôt have any relevance for human evolution.‚ÄĚ2
The study‚Äôs authors refuted specific claims made by paleontologist Jens Franzen and others in a 2009 PLoS Biology paper, which named Ida Darwinius masillae in honor of British naturalist Charles Darwin‚Äôs 200th birthday.3
The relevance of Ida to human ancestry depended on her being a haplorhine, a ‚Äúdry-nosed‚ÄĚ group of primates thought to include monkeys, apes, tarsiers, and humans. Kirk and his colleagues revisited Ida‚Äôs tooth, skull, jaw, and other body features, and concluded that she was a strepsirrhine, a ‚Äúwet-nosed‚ÄĚ group that includes lemurs and aye-ayes, and that she was thus irrelevant to human evolution. (Some primates do not clearly fit either classification.)
Evolutionists had initially argued that if Ida was one of the earliest haplorhines to have evolved, then she might have been an ancestor to later haplorhines, which they believe eventually became humans. But these later researchers wrote in the Journal of Human Evolution, ‚ÄúOur review of the available evidence leads us to conclude that Darwinius is not a haplorhine and certainly not an anthropoid [man-like creature].‚ÄĚ4
The American-Statesman reported that Franzen and his colleagues plan to publish a rebuttal of Kirk‚Äôs dissent. Like so many other evolution-inspired research questions, the issue of whether or not Ida belongs in man‚Äôs evolutionary past may remain wrapped in confusion and never be resolved by researchers who refuse to interpret the data using anything other than an evolutionary paradigm.
Ida‚Äôs prominence may someday diminish, but that will most likely happen only after another fossil is erroneously presented as the latest, greatest ‚Äúmissing link.‚ÄĚ5
- A quotation from British naturalist Sir David Attenborough, contained in Attenborough on Ida: this little creature is going to show our connection with all other mammals. The Guardian. Posted on guardian.co.uk May 19, 2009, accessed May 20, 2009.
- Castillo, J. UT researcher among those challenging ‚Äėmissing link.‚Äô Austin American-Statesman. Posted on statesman.com March 4, 2010, accessed March 9, 2010.
- Franzen, J. L. et al. 2009. Complete Primate Skeleton from the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: Morphology and Paleobiology. PLoS One. 4 (5): e5723.
- Williams, B. A. et al. Darwinius masillae is a strepsirrhine‚Äēa reply to Franzen et al. (2009). Journal of Human Evolution. Published online before print February 26, 2010.
- For a brief list of prior debunked ‚Äúmissing links‚ÄĚ in man‚Äôs supposed evolutionary past, see Batten, D. 2010. Human evolution: oh so clear? Creation. 32 (2): 46-47.
Image credit: PLoS
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on March 19, 2010.